The following was written by Tina and comes from TinaErwin.com and has been published with permission. The concepts of what it means to be a father, and the karma involved with fatherhood, families, and parenting are timeless.
Father’s Day means that it’s time to discuss parenting in a different light. What it means to be a mother seems to be more universally understood than what it means to be a father. There are far more “how to” books for mothering than for fathering, as if somehow, fathering is not quite as important.
Each of us has our own definition of what a father is or is not supposed to be based on our own unique experience. In today’s world, intact families are the unusual anomaly, no longer the norm. My daughter once remarked that she was the only one among her friends with original parents in a healthy marriage.
Is this state of affairs of separated families a good or a bad thing? It is not good or bad; that’s just how it is now. Often, because it seems that karma is being sped up, many things have to be resolved in this lifetime regarding relationships and at a much greater speed than in the past. What that means is that couples lead more complicated lives and it is often not as easy or as time affordable to work things out between couples. This, in turn, means that there are more and more families without fathers. Sometimes it seems that there is more karma being created on the negative side in divorces than can be resolved in one lifetime. It does not have to be that way.
Some divorce situations are so filled with rage and anger that kids feel disloyal if they try to maintain their love for both parents. Some parents use their kids as pawns to punish their partners. No one ever wins this pissing contest: everyone just gets really stinky.
Perhaps the greatest loss to families is the concept of the involved father. The involved father is a man who helps as an equal partner, respects the mother and remains in an active partnership with the mother, providing balanced discipline for the kids. Parents who support one another are often quite rare.
Many women who grow up without fathers never really understand men and often take on their mother’s hatred of men, which then deprives the daughter of a loving relationship with a good husband. Many boys grow up with fathers who hate and abuse women and the same situation is the result. These things work both ways.
We need fathers. The reason we have two parents is the balance and wisdom a child receives from both male and female perspectives.
We need fathers to be teachers to their kids, to be examples of what moral values stand for and for teaching that kindness backed with strength of character are the foundations for a successful life. We need fathers who keep their word and are fair in all their dealings.
The problem is that men and women who did not have positive role models often have no idea how to be that kind of parent. They fumble and seldom ask for help. Often they say well, it was okay for me, why isn’t it okay for my child? It simply is not. Each of us has to do a better job of parenting than was done for us and if we had great parenting, build on that foundation. Perhaps it is a good idea to identify what good fathers bring to the family.
A really good Dad is a teacher for all his children, offering them the benefit of his wisdom when it comes to people, politics, career guidance, sportsmanship, building things, tools, and life in general.
Close relationships with a great dad create stability in a child’s personality.
The father who just sits in front of the TV and never spends time reading or holding his little kids misses out on an incredible opportunity to teach his children something. When you patiently teach them, it means you are spending time with them. One of my sons noted that some of his happiest times were when he was in the garage working on something with his dad – the give and take, the patience of learning how tools work. There were the times when they built gigantic Lego projects together and the guidance received at those times, enabled our son to learn how to build complicated Lego models on his own as a practice for following written directions.
Fathers teach balance in a marriage: doing chores, washing dishes, sharing in the cleaning, yard work and errand running.
Fathers teach consideration when shopping for birthdays, Mother’s Day and holidays for mothers and siblings.
Fathers teach politics when they discuss their jobs with their sons and daughters so that the children can understand how the real world functions from a man’s perspective.
Children learn what marriage is like only from watching their parents. Kids will do what their parents do unless they are very, very savvy and can differentiate from what was great about their parent’s marriage and what required improvement. The greatest gift you can give your children is a happy marriage.
Happy marriages mean stable homes and great kids.
Boys learn how to treat women with respect by watching their father interact with their mother. If the father is kind and considerate, then his sons will learn this. Girls learn how women are to be treated from their father’s attitude toward their mother. The abusive/disrespectful father creates abusive kids, abusive adults, and ultimately abusive parents. The physically and verbally violent father creates horrific trauma for children literally for generations to come.
It is always better to have a single mother family than have a violent family with an abusive father. The kids never really forgive the mother for continuing to allow the abuse much less the father for abusing all of them. Why didn’t she just leave him, they ask themselves for the rest of their lives, until they end up in the same type of marriage. It takes quite a bit of courage to leave that life.
Fathers are incredibly valuable and families need fathers for love and for balance. Families do not need fathers who are never there or who abuse.
Like everything else in human relationships, the father connection is very complicated. Let us hope that more men decide to be really great fathers because they are incredibly important in everyone’s life.
So, on Father’s Day or any day of the year, let us honor all those who do represent the best of fathering and let us say a prayer for all those fathers who do not, in the hopes that some day, they may come to understand the tremendous importance of the father’s role in a child’s life.
*This Father’s Day message is dedicated to my sons, James and Andrew who are tremendous Dads!
Photography courtesy of James Erwin.